100 degrees F in Siberia!


Joshua Stevens/NASA Earth Observatory

The Arctic heat wave that sent Siberian temperatures soaring to around 100 degrees Fahrenheit on the first day of summer put an exclamation point on an astonishing transformation of the Arctic environment that’s been underway for about 30 years.

As long ago as the 1890s, scientists predicted that increasing levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere would lead to a warming planet, particularly in the Arctic, where the loss of reflective snow and sea ice would further warm the region. Climate models have consistently pointed to “Arctic amplification” emerging as greenhouse gas concentrations increase.

Well, Arctic amplification is now here in a big way. The Arctic is warming at roughly twice the rate of the globe as a whole. When extreme heat waves like this one strike, it stands out to everyone. Scientists are generally reluctant to say “We told you so,” but the record shows that we did.

The question now on the table is will nations led by fools who continually reject science change their practices in the least? Or are the residents of the planet stuck into a downward spiral, refusing to act – for whatever excuses they adopt – until it is too late to halt our collective demise?

Brother, can you spare a dime

The multitrillion-dollar patchwork of federal and state relief programs has not kept bills from piling up or prevented long lines at food banks. But it has mitigated the damage. Now the expiration of those programs represents a cliff that many Americans and the economy are hurtling toward.

The $1,200 checks are long gone, at least for those who needed them most, with little imminent prospect for a second round. The lending program that helped millions of small businesses keep workers on the payroll will wind down if Congress does not extend it. Eviction moratoriums that are keeping people in their homes are expiring in many cities.

And the $600 per week in extra unemployment benefits that have allowed tens of millions of laid-off workers to pay rent and buy groceries will expire at the end of July…

RTFA. Every spare economist can make a buck, right now, forecasting a quick revival of our economy. Some don’t.

Thank you to Barry Ritholtz‘ for the link to the 538 post…and the late Jay Gorney for being a helluva musician and composer.

Ray Dalio’s perspective on China

Couple of quick notes:

Recently, I read reviews of Ray Dalio‘s essays on China and investing and that was what I was looking for. That is over here. In the course of my search for an easily accessible link, I came across this video. ‘Nuff said.

It’s long for my usual liking, though, there’s nothing slow or boring about it. Whenever he is on one of the (very few) TV channels I ever watch, I try to catch his appearance. I always learn something useful to managing the comparatively small retirement account I have to backup Social Security.

Trump wants retirees to cut their own social security benefits to survive the pandemic


Wearing this flag as a mask doesn’t mean you’re not a thief

“The Administration literally wants working people to decide whether they prefer to put food on the table now or when they retire. Meanwhile, wealthy corporations and individuals continue to reap billions from the 2017 tax breaks and even billions more in bailouts and tax cuts from the recent pandemic stimulus legislation.

“The federal government should be helping everyone weather this crisis, not just the rich and well connected. But this administration has repeatedly shown it is bound and determined to use the pandemic as an excuse to slash Social Security benefits and gut the Social Security system. Whether it’s eliminating Social Security’s dedicated funding stream by cutting the payroll tax or asking people to ‘voluntarily’ forgo the retirement benefits they have earned over decades, the result is less retirement security for all.

No doubt some of the fools who voted for Trump will also think this is a great idea. I know of a bridge in Brooklyn they can buy for very little money that is just as sound an economic offer. Guaranteed to provide them with the sort of retirement security – they deserve.

Getting ready for the first megadrought caused by human culture, economics


Water level, now, at the Ward Creek Reservoir, Grand Mesa, Colorado

A vast region of the western United States, extending from California, Arizona and New Mexico north to Oregon and Idaho, is in the grips of the first climate change-induced megadrought observed in the past 1,200 years, a study shows. The finding means the phenomenon is no longer a threat for millions to worry about in the future, but is already here.

The megadrought has emerged while thirsty, expanding cities are on a collision course with the water demands of farmers and with environmental interests, posing nightmare scenarios for water managers in fast-growing states.

Unlike historical megadroughts triggered by natural climate cycles, emissions of heat-trapping gases from human activities have contributed to the current one, the study finds. Warming temperatures and increasing evaporation, along with earlier spring snowmelt, have pushed the Southwest into its second-worst drought in more than a millennium of observations.

RTFA. Read it and weep for what humankind has wrought. Not just upon the American Southwest and those of us who live here; but, to the whole planet.